Anti-racism and religious tolerance policy

Policy

Intent and objectives

To provide an environment at RMIT that is free from all forms of race discrimination and racial or religious vilification. To ensure that all staff and students are educated on the prevention of race discrimination, or racial or religious vilification, and to recognise the behaviours that may constitute race discrimination and racial or religious vilification.

Objectives

  • To prevent unlawful discrimination, including race discrimination and racial or religious vilification at RMIT University.
  • To convey clearly to persons covered by the scope of this policy that any behaviour which may constitute race discrimination and racial or religious vilification will not be tolerated in any form at RMIT University.
  • To provide persons covered by the scope of this policy with a healthy and safe environment for work and study that is free from behaviours, practices and processes that may constitute race discrimination and racial or religious vilification.
  • To acknowledge that persons covered by the scope of this policy are to be informed of this policy and have access to the information and training needed to prevent and address any incidences of race discrimination and racial or religious vilification that may occur.
  • To outline the responsibilities of managers and supervisors.
  • To encourage the early reporting of any allegations of race discrimination and racial or religious vilification.
  • To support any staff member or student who experiences race discrimination and racial or religious vilification whilst on placement, including providing assistance making use of any internal procedures in place at the site or in accessing external agencies.
  • To ensure that complaints will be dealt with in a sensitive, equitable, fair, timely and confidential manner, which ensures that persons against whom complaints have been made are accorded natural justice through the use of procedures that are impartial, open and fair to all parties.
  • To ensure as far as is practicable that persons making complaints are protected from victimisation or reprisals for reporting the discrimination and/or vilification to the University.

Scope

This policy is applicable to all staff members, contractors, service providers, clients, customers, visitors and students when they are engaged in University activities and is applicable at all RMIT locations whether in Australia or overseas.

Exclusions

Nil.

Policy provisions

Race discrimination, or racial or religious vilification, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by RMIT in any circumstances.

Race discrimination involves treating a person less favourably on the basis of that person’s race, in the same or similar circumstances, than another person.

Direct Race Discrimination occurs when a person is disadvantaged or treated less favourably than someone else because of the person’s race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin. Direct discrimination can occur regardless of the discriminator’s motive and whether or not he or she is aware of the discrimination or considers the treatment less favourable.

Indirect Race Discrimination occurs when a practice or policy appears to be fair because it treats everyone in the same way, but in effect it disadvantages a higher proportion of people from one racial or ethnic group and is not reasonable in the circumstances.

Racial or Religious Vilification is behaviour that incites or encourages hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule against another person, or group of people, because of their race or religion.

The affirmation of cultural diversity, together with anti-racism strategies, enhances the productivity of work and study groups and contributes to the achievement of quality educational leadership and equitable outcomes for the members of the RMIT community.

Cultural diversity should be recognised and respected, as an asset and should not be feared. Culture reflects both the similarities that unite us as human beings and the differences that characterise our upbringing - variations in ethnic background, language, class, gender, socio-economic status, country of origin, regional differences, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and age.

Guiding principles

The following principles will guide RMIT University in promoting equality of opportunity and dealing with race discrimination and racial or religious vilification:

  • Respect for, and dignified and courteous treatment of all staff, students and all persons who deal with RMIT.
  • RMIT aims to establish a climate where race discrimination and racial or religious vilification does not occur and thus there will be an emphasis on prevention through training and awareness raising activities. RMIT will ensure that all members of the RMIT community have access to the information and support needed to prevent race discrimination and racial or religious vilification or to deal with it appropriately if it occurs.
  • RMIT aims to integrate training on equality of opportunity and the promotion of a diverse community into all levels of training, including induction, during supervisor and management training programs and to integrate information and training into key student activities during orientation, enrolment and at other times of the academic year.
  • RMIT acknowledges that all students and staff are to be informed of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. Further, it acknowledges that all managers and supervisors are to be informed of their responsibility for ensuring the maintenance of proper standards of conduct within the university context.
  • RMIT will support any staff member or student who report experiencing race discrimination or racial or religious vilification whilst on placement including providing assistance in making use of any internal procedures in place at the site or in accessing external forums.
  • Complaints will be dealt with in a sensitive, impartial, timely and confidential manner, which ensures that persons against whom complaints have been made are accorded natural justice through the use of procedures that are impartial and open.
  • RMIT will ensure, as far as is practicable, that persons making complaints are, protected against victimisation and reprisals.
  • RMIT will actively encourage the reporting of behaviour that breaches this policy.

Activities to be undertaken in support of this policy

RMIT will undertake activities in support of this policy including but not limited to:

  • Prevention, training and educational activities to be undertaken, including publication of resource materials and provision of an accessible on-line training program
  • Identifying the resources necessary for the prevention of race discrimination and racial or religious vilification and promoting the benefits of diversity
  • Research activities
  • Evaluation and review activities

RMIT will ensure that the promotion of the advantages of diversity and the prevention of race discrimination and racial or religious vilification are recognised as key organisational goals and prime management responsibilities.

Responsibilities of management, staff and students

RMIT has a legal responsibility to prevent race discrimination or racial or religious vilification; otherwise it can be held liable for the behaviour of its employees and in some instances, its students.

All persons covered by the scope of this policy are required to:

  • comply with this policy
  • behave appropriately
  • promote a climate of mutual respect
  • maintain confidentiality concerning any complaint or investigation

Managers are accountable for the conduct of people they manage at RMIT.

It is integral to a manager’s responsibilities that they identify, prevent and redress potential problems in the workplace or in the study environment before these become the subject of complaints. Therefore, any manager, academic or teaching staff member who observes inappropriate behaviour has a duty to raise it with the person so behaving and to take further action if the behaviour does not cease. This duty exists even in the absence of a complaint.

Staff members with managerial or supervisory responsibility or both are required to:

  • Role model appropriate behaviour which promotes the principles of this policy
  • Monitor the working and studying environment to ensure that acceptable standards of conduct are observed at all times and to take action if they observe unacceptable conduct.
  • Take appropriate steps according to this policy to prevent a discriminatory culture from developing at RMIT.
  • Promote this policy within their sphere of influence and to ensure that all persons have an understanding of the policy and its requirements.
  • Ensure that students and staff are aware of RMIT’s commitment to assist them should they experience discrimination on placement.
  • Ensure that students and staff on placement are provided with adequate information about the policies and practices in existence at that site.
  • Encourage staff members to use the services of the University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to discuss their concerns and to manage the pressures of working life.
  • Manage complaints of discrimination in a timely, confidential and fair manner ensuring due process.
  • Attempt to resolve any complaint of discrimination at the local level as soon as possible, whenever possible

How to deal with breaches of this policy

Any complaints made by staff members under this policy will be dealt with via the Staff complaints procedure.

Any complaints made by students under this policy will be dealt with via the Student complaints procedure.

If a serious breach of this policy by a customer, contractor, service provider or visitor, while engaging with University staff or students, is confirmed, appropriate action must be taken in accordance with the relevant Service Contract or Agreement with the University.

All reports of this type of behaviour will be treated seriously and administered through the relevant complaints handling procedure (Staff complaints procedure or the Student complaints procedure).

Victimisation

RMIT will not tolerate victimisation and may take disciplinary action in response to any victimisation.

RMIT University will ensure, as far as is practicable, that persons covered by the scope of this policy are not victimised or penalised for reporting alleged unreasonable behaviour at the University. Any person who is found to have victimised the person who has made or intends to make a complaint, or to have victimised a witness or associate of the person who has made, or intends to make a complaint, will be subject to the consequences of breaching this policy.

This also applies to a person who is associated with another person who has made a complaint.

Consequences for breaches of this policy

RMIT will treat all allegations of race discrimination and racial or religious vilification seriously and impartially. The consequences for breaching this policy will depend on the seriousness of the case. Outcomes may include, but are not restricted to the following:

  • Gaining a commitment from one or more persons to cease, and not to repeat, the behaviour
  • Making an apology to the affected person or persons
  • Providing mediation between the parties, if both parties agree to a mediation process and to the mediator
  • Providing targeted training regarding prevention of unacceptable workplace behaviours
  • Offering support to the person making the complaint
  • Offering support to the person against whom the complaint is made
  • Disciplinary action
  • Dismissal, suspension or expulsion, against the person found responsible for race discrimination or vilification where serious or repeated misconduct relating to discrimination and vilification has been proven
  • Disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, suspension or expulsion, against the person making a complaint of race discrimination or vilification if, after investigation, the complaint is found to have been malicious or vexatious.

Disciplinary action may be taken against anyone who victimises or retaliates against a person who has made a complaint.

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